It’s what she would have wanted

Charles 9 Comments

Here’s a new poem by Wendy Cope published in the current Spectator. I hope she’ll forgive the flagrant breach of copyright and see this instead as a promo. Its sentiments are very contemporary.

My Funeral

I hope I can trust you, friends, not to use our relationship

As an excuse for an unsolicited ego-trip.

I have seen enough of them at funerals and they make me cross.

At this one, though deceased, I aim to be the boss.

If you are asked to talk about me for five minutes, please do not go on for eight

There is a strict timetable at the crematorium and nobody wants to be late

If invited to read a poem, just read the bloody poem. If requested

To sing a song, just sing it, as suggested,

And don’t say anything. Though I will not be there,

Glancing pointedly at my watch and fixing the speaker with a malevolent stare,

Remember that this was how I always reacted

When I felt that anybody’s speech, sermon or poetry reading was becoming too protracted.

Yes, I was intolerant, and not always polite

And if there aren’t many people at my funeral, it will serve me right.


  1. Charles

    Minibrants, who could not smile knowingly at “”just read the bloody poem,” and the bit about unsolicited ego-trips?

    But it’s clever, isn’t it, because she doesn’t want any ego-trips from the living, yet she aims to be the boss.. and the ending is just perfect, leaving open-ended questions and further thoughts about the whole business.

    Thanks Charles – an ur-text for celbsters!

  2. Charles

    Gosh, yes, it’s clever. I’ve been musing on this zeitgeisty demand for post-mortem control (and where it ends). When can we call time of death? Dead people want to call the shots, and there’s a case for rebuffing them with, Butt out, you’re dead. But the living, many of whom feel guiltily that they ought to have been more use to the person when they were alive, feel there is an atonement and reparation opportunity in going to say goodbye to a ten-day-old corpse in the present tense.

  3. Charles

    Contemporary above all in its cynicism … which I view as a pity, though it reflects reality. I always feel it is a pity when art aspires to no more than reflecting reality, rather than taking one above it. Especially when the reality sucks!

    This is fine as a poem, but imagine something like this actually serving as the final statement for one’s life? I would certainly hope to leave on a more positive, or at least, detached note.

    It reminds me a little of Charles’ post with the guy using his last opportunity to protest at some American president. Death is above and beyond all this “worldly nonsense”….

  4. Charles

    H’m. The problem with irony is that it’s so easy to mis-read it. Does anyone really think the poet is celebrating the time constraints at the local crem? And it seems to me the last line is doing a lot more than reflecting reality. So I don’t feel cynicism is quite right…it seems to me questioning, probing sort of poem.

    Charles may have struck the nail in exactly the right place in his final thought; maybe saying goodbye on the dead person’s own terms is an act of atonement, even for those who think “well, he’s out of it, now – what do we think is the best thing to do?”

  5. Charles

    I may be just like your old worn-out socks,
    but you could do better than just stick me in a box
    and shove me in a cremator
    sooner rather than later.

    Come on, I meant something to you,
    so I think the least you could do
    is go on and on and on about my qualities
    and play Bright Side to highlight our jollities.

    Pontificate all you want at my funeral –
    you’ll be glad you did sooner orl
    ater when your time arrives,
    hopefully attended by at least three of your ex-wives.

    1. Charles

      Just finished watching a funeral on TV at which this Wendy Cope poen was actually read. This is what brought me here. But this one seems even more brilliant…

Leave a Reply

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>